[Coral-List] Study nature, not books

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Sat Oct 9 02:36:52 EDT 2010

The quote from Louis Agassiz is one that is sometimes found around the 
Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, an illustrious institution. 
There is a fascinating book about Louis and his son Alexander, and the son's 
attempt to prove Charles Darwin's theory of coral reef formation wrong.  His 
father had attacked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.  Both were 
respected scientists.  Both father and son ended up loosing those arguments. 
The book is:

Dobbs, David.  2005.  Reef madness, Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and 
the meaning of coral.  Pantheon Books (of Random House).  306 pp.

(For those not familiar with the name, Agassiz is pronounced ag-a-see, I 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Cubit" <John.Cubit at noaa.gov>
To: "Angélica Batista" <baaatichica at yahoo.com>
Cc: "coral-list" <Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 6:20 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Study nature, not books [Re: Artificial Reefs]

>  Before being prejudiced by the literature, I suggest you carefully
> examine the structure of the natural reefs at Punta Betin, all the way
> down to the finest details of the biologically-built substratum of the
> reefs and the inhabitants of the substratum.   Looking at the
> centimeter, millimeter, and finer scales, examine the variety of pores,
> laminations, and other topographical/structural complexities that are
> not captured in any standard measures of "rugosity." Examine the biota
> that penetrate the substrata and their dependence on the fine properties
> of the substrata.  Using this reality as your standard, look at pieces
> of concrete, quarried limestone, and other materials used to build
> artificial reefs.  Ask the question, "Do artificial reefs support the
> same range of biological diversity?  Do artificial reefs provide the
> same complex of ecological services provided by natural reefs?"
> Evaluate the published information--and management decisions--accordingly.
> The quote in the subject line is from Louis Agassiz.
> --John

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